By Carol Tannenhauser
“I’m on the list,” person after person told the ticket-takers at the farewell tribute to Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the man who co-founded it, Dan Talbot, held on Sunday morning, January 28th, the theater’s closing day.
It seemed that everyone was “on the list,” for no one was turned away. Crowds poured in to watch the action as they always have in this legendary venue: on the screen, in this case, in one of the theaters to which it was streamed live from Theater 1, where the event took place, and family, friends, and film industry leaders sat.
Toby Talbot gallantly led off a series of live and taped tributes to her husband, who died on December 22nd, two weeks after landlord Howard Milstein informed them that, after 37 years, he would not be renewing their lease. The speakers began with Bernardo Bertolucci and ended with Michael Moore — who chose the bang not whimper route.
“Capitalism killed this cinema,” he railed. “At some point, people will say, ‘I’ve had enough.’ And the revolt begins.”
Interspersed with the speeches were clips of classic films exhibited and distributed by the Talbots during their 70-year partnership and marriage. Dan Talbot was hailed for his instincts, courage and foresight, but equally for his humanity; his generosity with his employees and aspiring filmmakers; his word, scrawled on a slip of paper, which was often the only contract he needed. To paraphrase one of the speakers, “He and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas were one and the same. Both will be greatly missed.”
“The theaters served as a cultural forum, a global public square where we laughed and cried with, learned from, and opened our hearts to people from the most familiar and most remote corners of the world,” wrote Upper West Sider Sonja Noring after attending the tribute. “We are all impoverished by its loss.”
Photos by Carol Tannenhauser.